I got a deer.
Not the biggest deer we’ve ever seen on the farm but a fat, fat little buck. He was post shed, so he went on my antlerless tag, and it was a clean lung-lung kill.
Me and my father went up to the farm Friday morning, and got into the woods. I snuck to my standard stand which gives a commanding view of the intersection of the valleys, while dad pressed back into the pines he likes to hunt. I saw a much larger doe over a bush, and tried to take the shot. As much as I love the Marlin 336, the 30-30 caliber with it’s thin jacket doesn’t make it a fantastic bush pusher. The 30-06 is a much better caliber for this with it’s much thicker jacket around the bullet. I’m playing with the idea of loading 30-06 flat-nose bullets into 30-30 cases but without the velocity, I don’t know if this is a fantastic idea. It’s one of those where you make 10 or 15 rounds and then test-fire them. But back to the chase, I saw a doe over a bush and thought I had a shot through a gap between the bush and it’s buddy. The first shot caused the deer to pause, but not panic. It also cleanly missed. When I racked the next round, the deer took off. I took another shot at the back of it’s neck and was outmaneuvered again by the bush. Dad radioed me to ask if I had connected with anything. Since the deer slowed down going up the hill I said I maybe hit something, I knew the first shot was a miss but the stumble up the hill made the second shot a likely hit. Dad volunteered to come by and help search for hair and blood. Hunting in a lot of ways is like a very cold, wet episode of CSI. Hair and blood indicates a hit and provides a trail, no hair and no blood means no hit.
Dad started to press his way through the bushes when another deer tried to sneak out. This deer was doing the sneaking crawl which deer do where they try to crawl under bushes with their head down and evade people. He almost made it too, I saw his head as he passed between two bushes and had the crosshairs on him. Had he crossed the gap faster, he might have made it, but curiosity killed the deer. Actually that’s wrong, the 30-30 killed the deer, but curiosity gave him pause long enough to make it an easy shot. I cracked the rifle once, the bullet hit just behind the shoulder blade, passed through the first lung and blew up over the heart. With no blood pressure, the deer stumbled once, laid down, and died.
Dad, hearing the next shot, assumed the first deer had come back down the hill and I had put another round into it. He was obviously elated to have both deer tags filled in the first hour of hunting so easily. I put a spare blaze orange hat on a tree over the deer to mark where the first one fell and we pressed on to try to find the second deer. There was no sign after a this second, more extensive search, so we returned to the first one. We looped a rope around it’s neck and pulled it out of the woods. The drag always sucks, 125lbs of dead weight is nothing to sneeze at, and we paused several times so we didn’t die of a heart attack. Gutting the deer is a pretty standard affair, start at the bottom and work your way up. Tie off the intestines on both sides to prevent poop from pouring out of the asshole and the bowel, then remove all the lower organs in a bundle. Next cut out the kidneys from the backstrap, pull out the stomach and liver, and cut the diaphragm. Fountain of blood! The lungs and heart pour blood into the chest, which is always a mess, so cutting this open always results in a gore-bath. Unfortunately this is the only way to do it, so the best bet is to just pour out the blood once it all flows out, reach in with a knife, and cut the windpipe. With any luck, the whole pulmonary system (heart and lungs) will come out intact. The good stuff is the liver and heart, those go into a bag, and cut off what used to be the lungs from the heart. The heart is like fillet mignon, it’s layers of fat and muscle built up as the deer grows. The liver is an acquired taste, but I like it. Finally you need to get the genitals out of the deer. This is accomplished by cutting the pelvic bone in two (this is where a heavy, sharp knife comes in handy) and cutting out the asshole along with the rest. If the ass was tied off first thing, this is easy. If you forgot to tie it off, expect to get covered in piss and shit from the intestines collapsing and the bladder opening from the loss of pressure. If you do screw it up, hose out the deer, otherwise it should come out cleanly as an entire unit of excreting organs. Cut carefully and think about it. Dump out the body one last time after freeing the genitals. The rest of the deer is run to the butcher shop to be turned into sausage, ground deer, steak, and cutlets.